Marvelous 3D Models by fresh cut paper studio

Alex Dunsmuir of fresh cut paper studio in Toronto and I struck up a conversation on Instagram that led to this spotlight on her paper art... I think you'll enjoy being introduced to her work. She puts great care and precision into the construction of each dimensional paper model, and even though the subject is often playful, it's clear that the sculptures are made by an artist who strives for - and achieves - perfection.


Polaroid OneStep camera 3D paper sculpture model

Alex is currently working on an exhibit of paper sculptures called Paper Trail: Portrait of a Life in 12 Sheets as part of a Toronto Arts Council residency. She explains: "It explores the universal connection to paper throughout our lives as a medium that inspires, informs, and celebrates us because, in spite of technological advancements, paper still plays a prominent role through our life stages. Think birth certificate, photos, textbooks, diploma, marriage license, house deed, all the way up to our obit!"


Tell us about your introduction to paper art. Are you a self-taught artist or have you had formal training? 


I am self-taught, but art has always been an important part of my life. I used to paint in a hyperrealistic style, and I’m an avid art history and design enthusiast. I worked in marketing for over 25 years with brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, and General Mills. 


hand holding a paper sculpture ice cream cone 3D model


That part of my life influences my paper sculpture. It’s funny, because as an artist, I always feel like I should say I’m inspired by nature - which is true when I’m doing paper florals - but really, my biggest inspiration is consumer packaged goods! 

3D model of paper sculpture zipper partway unzipped


What is it about paper sculpture that drew you to it? 


I love the challenge of recreating something complex out of such a simple material. And I live for the double-take, when someone assumes the piece is real, but then realizes it’s paper. Also, I appreciate the fact that no two pieces are created the same way, so there’s never an opportunity for boredom to set in.


Not only can I experiment with many different paper techniques (including quilling, which I use often in my work), but I’m always borrowing techniques from other artistic practices, like textiles, ceramics, and even cake decorating. Recently, I tried stop-motion for the first time, and I’m using wood-working techniques for a paper sculpture that I’m making right now. 


paddle ball 3D paper sculpture

Do you rely on a favorite paper and glue? 


My favorite paper is…leftovers! I’m very conscious of my use of materials, and try to repurpose off-cuts from other projects whenever possible. A few years ago I created a piece for a show on the environment. It was a commentary on the destructive impact that our throw-away society is having on our oceans. In the spirit of the piece, I used only paper scraps that I had in the studio. Since then I’ve really doubled down on making sure nothing goes to waste. That said, those leftovers are often Canson MiTeintes paper. I also like Fabriano Hot Press watercolor paper, as the weight of it gives a nice structure to pieces. 


record player paper sculpture

As for adhesives, I mostly use X-Press It high-tack, doublesided tissue tape. I like the bonding quality and precision of it, and if you make a mistake applying, it rolls right off without leaving residue. The hyperrealistic style does not really allow for glue marks! When I’m working on delicate or very small pieces though, I will use either Beacon 3-in-1 Advanced Craft glue or Aleene’s Clear Gel.

cluster of 3D paper daisy models

(Art) Help Wanted! Alex is looking for suggestions from the public for an upcoming greeting card-themed paper sculpture in exchange for possible name recognition in the piece, and a chance to win an original framed floral work from fresh cut paper studio. To participate (if you are on Instagram): Leave a comment on this Help Wanted Instagram post @freshcutpaperstudio, indicating a life celebration or National Day for which you like giving or receiving cards. All cultures and celebrations welcome.


pastel colored salt water taffy pieces in white paper bag 3D paper sculpture

You can also include ideas for cards that don’t currently exist in the market (example: Happy National Sardines Day! - yes, it’s a thing). Be the first person to suggest a greeting card for a specific celebration - traditional or non-traditional - for a chance to have your first name featured in a card in the final piece.


(I wonder if National Salt Water Taffy Day exists? If not, it should!)


This is not a sponsored post.
All Things Paper is an (AWIN) Etsy affiliate.

Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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